New Belgium fire ‘very suspicious’


Silhouetted by the lights from his fire truck, Asheville firefighter Jeremy Lloyd works to extinguish the last of a blaze that destroyed the Penland Auction House and damaged other buildings in the River Arts District Friday night (Photo by Max Cooper)

The cause of the structure fire that started in the River Arts District late April 5 evening remains as opaque as the smoke that billowed from it. The flames overtook two buildings at the future New Belgium site on Craven Street. The buildings had been set for demolition to make way for the brewery construction.

"I would say that it’s very suspicious. Two buildings, the same location [and] a significant distance apart were on fire at the same time," said Asheville Fire Department Battalion Chief Carlo Marzello. When asked whether arson could be responsible for the fire, Marzello told Xpress, “The cause is under investigation with our fire marshal, so he’ll make that determination.” He expects AFD will release further details within a few days. No injuries were reported. 

Continue reading this story here at Mountain Xpress.

On second thought: Commissioners approve discrimination ban, will need additional vote


Equal status: Blue Ridge Pride organizer Yvonne Cook-Riley speaks with Executive Director for the Campaign for Southern Equality, the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, after commissioners voted 4-3 to add protections for the county’s LGBT employees. (Photo by Caitlin Byrd)

As members of the community stood before Buncombe County commissioners with Bibles in hand, legal statutes in folders and opinions in mind, public comment took a personal turn before the vote on a resolution to expand nondiscrimination language within the county’s personnel ordinance.

“This is not a civil rights situation. The Bible is the bottom line,” contended the Rev. Wendell Runion.

“This is more than a fairness issue: It is a moral issue,” arguedYvonne Cook-Riley, who spoke on behalf of Blue Ridge Pride. 

Swannanoa resident Chris Oaks told commissioners, “If you do [vote for this ordinance], the blood will be on your hands for sending these people to hell.”

In total, 15 people spoke during the public comment session, which took place before county commissioners voted 4-3 to approve the resolution that expands Buncombe’s existing nondiscrimination clause. Currently, county workers are protected from discrimination based on age, color, race, sex and religion, along with a bevy of additional protected classes. The new resolution adds an extra layer of protection, safeguarding workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Less than a year ago, the proposal came before commissioners but failed with a 3-2 vote.

This time, the final vote split the other way: Democrats David Gantt, Ellen Frost, Holly Jones and Brownie Newman supported the expanded policy, and Republicans Joe Belcher, Mike Fryar and David King voted against it.

Read the rest of the article here at Mountain Xpress

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And it was glorious.